When it seems like darkness reigns

This is a break from the knitting focus.  The events in Newtown, CT have weighed heavily.  Here’s what I shared with the congregation I currently serve – Church of the Roses in Santa Rosa, CA.

Today as we come in prayer we bring heavy hearts. The shootings in Newtown, Connecticut, are of a nature that render speech nearly impossible, and tears near. Twenty-eight lives were cut down on Friday, as we know, most of them small children, others adults protecting them, and finally the disturbed shooter.

We have personal connection to this tragedy beyond the news reports. Delores Dewhurst’s little grandson, Carter, lost his best friend, Ben Wheeler, in the shootings on Friday.  Ben leaves behind his parents, David and Francine, and an older brother Nate. Ben’s family are members of Trinity Episcopal Church in Newton.

As with many his age here in the US and around the world, Carter is learning the cost of violence at far too early an age. He is being helped through time by his family including his parents, Jeff and Bobbie Dewhurst.

As people of faith, we have ways of responding that are particular to our tradition. On the Advent wreath today, we have put a yellow rose in honor and memory of those who were injured or lost their lives. We also have scripture to turn to. The Bible has a language of lament – and this language reminds us that God does not simply want our words of praise, that to speak to God is to speak fully of all the human emotions – grief, sadness, despair, anger included.

Hear these words from the prophet Jeremiah:

Thus says the Lord:
A voice is heard in Ramah,
lamentation and bitter weeping.
Rachel is weeping for her children;
she refuses to be comforted for her children,
because they are no more.

And from Psalm 42:
As a deer longs for flowing streams,
so my soul longs for you, O God.
My soul thirsts for God,
for the living God.
When shall I come and behold
the face of God?
My tears have been my food
day and night,
while people say to me continually,
‘Where is your God?’

Let us enter a time of silence to remember those who were lost to us on Friday.

silence

Let us pray:

In this season of Advent, we are brought short by the killings in Connecticut,

And find that our journey to Bethlehem is suddenly filled with grief and fear.

In that, we travel a similar way to that of Joseph and Mary.

We do not understand why this has happened,

We are angry that it did,

And we are also stunned into silence.

Pause

Beyond silence, we bring our tears and our fears to you.

We ask that in the coming weeks that you help to transform them,

Transform them into useful action

To reduce violence in our communities, especially toward children,

And to find treatment for those who suffer from mental illness.

Our hearts reach out to all the families and the communities devastated by this violent tragedy.

May they know the comfort of many arms to hold them,

The support of community to bear their grief with them.

The nearness of your life-giving Spirit in the midst of destruction,

And in the coming months and years, the healing of the community.

In this Advent Season,

We are grateful to see pinpricks of light amid these dark events:

We are grateful for firefighters and police who safely responded to the emergency

And took gentle care of traumatized children.

We are grateful for teachers who tucked away children from harm’s reach

And those children who helped their friends escape to life.

Today, perhaps more than ever, we are in need of your healing love,

For our families,

For our communities,

For our nation, and

For our earth.

Come quickly, God of all things, we need you. Amen.

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FO: Guy Sweater

At last!  The Guy Sweater is done. A man’s sweater is a lot of knitting! Guy Sweater (rav link)

Guy Sweater1k

I’m calling it the Guy Sweater because it has that vibe.  It’s certainly not a Dad sweater, or a Mr. Rogers sweater.  It’s more casual, the kind of thing that a guy would hang out in on a weekend.  I can see a male model wearing it, in other words.

Guy Sweater1m

The basic template for the sweater is from Cheryl Brunette’s book Sweater 101: How to Plan Sweaters that Fit…and Organize Your Knitting Life at the Same Time.  It was originally published in 1991, and more recently in 2007.  It was clearly done before the digital era – the only reference to electronics is to a hand-held calculator (!).

Nevertheless, the book is full of good info for basic sweater templates, and I used one for a set-in sleeve capped pullover as the basic model.  There’s a way to calculate the set-in sleeve decreases and other good tips.

With the recipient’s permission, I also put in a basic textured stitch that was not fussy, and happy with how I used it.  The bottom of the sleeves and body are hemmed for a streamlined look.

Guy Sweater1k
I knitted this in pieces, because the Knitpicks Cotlin yarn  will have a tendency to sag (because of the cotton), so seams are my friends.   It has washed and dried beautifully in the machine.
The design of the neckline was a bit of a quandry.  I was tempted to mimic the hemmed edge of the body and sleeves at the neck, but I was not wild about doing it with ribbing – too bulky.  I ended up doing 1×1 twisted ribbing in a smaller needle, and frankly very happy with how it came out – a nice neckline but not heavy or flashy.

Guy Sweater1l

Now, the recipient hasn’t tried it on, but the measurements seem to be coming out ok, so I hope it does. But I’ve gotten one vote of approval in the household:

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Brandy approves!

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What’s next

What’s next? That’s a question I’m asking myself a lot right now. I’m dreadfully behind in work (going into the busier holiday season to boot!), and also trying to figure out my Mom’s care.

You’d think that because she is in a professional medical environment there would be People in Charge. But in reality, there are just individual professionals working their own little areas. The speech therapist to check on swallowing, physical therapy folks who are working on getting her up and moving and doing a good job, the CNAs to take of the smaller tasks, the nurses to give meds. But, I hear you say, what about the doctor?

Ah, there’s the rub. My mom got discharged, but I didn’t think to coordinate her internist to connect in – I just didn’t even think about it, and nobody asked (thanks, discharge planner, for overlooking this!). So instead of her regular doctor, we got The Quack. Now, I’m sure he’s not a quack, but he apparently has no people skills and an accent so thick that I can barely undertand him, so he gets to deal with the most vulnerable people who don’t get a choice and probably can’t understand him either. And he doesn’t know my mom or how she was before the hospital. And he has visited her once in five days. Yes, this is the “regular” care when you aren’t in a larger system like Kaiser, which I think does coordinate these things.

I’m trying to get her regular doctor back, but despite calling on Wednesday (it took me a couple of days to realize the situation), he apparently was getting ready to go on vacation for a week, so I don’t have an answer about whether he’ll see her in the the rehab center, or what it will cost for his visits until he gets back in 10 days.

So, I’m basically acting as the case manager — getting her diet changed, asking for the doctor to order blood tests, finding out how her rehab is going (much better than I thought), so she can go back where she’s lived. Frankly, Medicare ought to be paying me, since it’s my pushing that will get her off their dime more quickly.

But the knitting does continue. What’s next there? Glad you asked. I’m working on a hat to go with my Disappearing Dots Scarf, and plotting a cowl to go with my handspun hat. And finishing up some Christmas Gifts that shall remain secret…

And this morning I am doing the final blocking on the guy sweater. I’ve already washed and dried the individual pieces, so now it’s a steam blocking of the shoulders, armholes and neckline. I’ll let this dry, and then one more washing and let it half dry, and let flat dry for the final finishing. Whew!

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